Archive for the ‘News Releases’ Category

Undergraduate Research and Academic Showcase April 1

Wednesday, March 26th, 2014

University of Maine undergraduate research will be highlighted during the 5th annual Undergraduate Research and Academic Showcase, 8 a.m.–5 p.m., Tuesday, April 1 at Wells Conference Center.

The event is sponsored by UMaine’s Center for Undergraduate Research and is open to any undergraduate at the university. Presentations from 149 students in the form of 77 posters, 21 oral presentations or performances, and nine exhibits will be featured. Several presentations include multiple students.

Students presenting projects that receive the highest scores from judges in each format will receive awards ranging from $100 to $200 in various categories, according to Ali Abedi, director of the Center for Undergraduate Research (CUGR).

Vice President for Research Carol Kim will deliver opening remarks at 8:30 a.m. Students are encouraged to pose questions for Kim via Twitter using #CUGR2014.

UMaine President Paul Ferguson is expected to give closing remarks during the awards presentation starting at 4:30 p.m., followed by the announcement of the Summer Research and Creative Academic Achievements Fellowship winners by Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Jeff Hecker. Ten students will each be awarded a $3,000 fellowship for their research.

The UMaine community and general public are welcome to attend the free event. For more information or to request disability accommodations, call CUGR, 207.581.3583. More information on the showcase is available online.

Contact: Elyse Kahl, 207.581.3747

More Than 100 Students to Showcase Work During GradExpo

Wednesday, March 26th, 2014

University of Maine graduate students will showcase their research and artistic works during the Graduate Student Government’s 2014 Graduate Academic Exposition.

More than $8,000 in prizes will be awarded to participants of the GradExpo. The event will be held 8 a.m.–4 p.m. Thursday and Friday, April 3–4 in the Innovative Media Research and Commercialization (IMRC) Center on campus.

The GradExpo will feature four areas of competition — posters, oral presentations, intermedia and fine arts exhibits, and a PechaKucha, or rapid-fire slide show event. About 106 submissions are expected at this year’s event.

The poster and oral presentations will highlight the physical sciences and technology, natural sciences, humanities and social sciences. The intermedia and fine arts exhibits will include art works, projects and performances. The PechaKucha competition, open to students in all academic disciplines, invites participants to share their work in a slide show lasting under seven minutes. Unlike the other presentations, the PechaKucha talks will be judged by the audience rather than faculty reviewers.

Two new awards have been added this year, and will be presented during the awards gala, slated for 6 p.m. Friday, April 4 at the IMRC Center.

The Provost’s Innovative/Creative Teaching Award worth $500, $300 and $150 will be given to graduate students who are lead instructors of a UMaine course and use innovative and creative teaching methods. Eligible candidates will present at the expo. Jeffrey Hecker, UMaine’s executive vice president of academic affairs and provost, will designate judges to select the winners.

The UMaine Alumni Association Alum Award worth $250 will be given to a graduate student who earned their undergraduate degree at the University of Maine. Selected candidates will present their research to Alumni Association staff members who will select the winner.

Other awards will include:

  • Graduate Student Government Awards — Presented to three students in each of the four presentation divisions. Faculty judges choose winners based on academic worthiness, excellence of presentation and skill in making the work understandable to a wide audience. Prizes are worth $600, $300 and $150.

  • Graduate Student Photo Contest Awards — Presented to graduate students who submitted photos in the categories of graduate student life, graduate student research, and graduate student teaching. The awards are worth $100, $50 and $25.

  • The Graduate Dean’s Undergraduate Mentoring Award — Presented for effective undergraduate mentoring in research, with awards worth $500, $250 and $100.

  • The President’s Research Impact Award — A $2,000 award given to the graduate student and their adviser who best exemplify the UMaine mission of teaching, research and outreach.

  • Innovation Award — $100.

Details of the expo are online. For more information or to request a disability accommodation, contact Robin Arnold, Graduate Student Government vice president, at robin.arnold@umit.maine.edu or 207.581.2398.

Contact: Elyse Kahl, 207.581.3747

Thirty-two UMaine Faculty Members Receive Tenure and/or Promotion

Tuesday, March 25th, 2014

The University of Maine System Board of Trustees has approved promotion and/or tenure for 32 University of Maine faculty members. The professors were nominated by University of Maine President Paul Ferguson based on a peer and administrative review of their successful work in teaching, research and public service.

“This annual process and recognition of excellence constitutes an important tradition to celebrate the University of Maine’s faculty and their role in the distinctiveness of Maine’s flagship, land grant university,” says President  Ferguson. “Their teaching, research and community outreach reaffirm the impactful role of public higher education in the quality of life for Maine citizens.”

University of Maine Faculty Promoted and/or Tenured, 2013–14

Promoted to professor

College of Engineering
Howard Gray, Civil Engineering Technology
M. Clayton Wheeler, Chemical Engineering

College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
Francois Amar, Chemistry
Mark Brewer, Political Science
Samuel Hess, Physics and Astronomy
Jon Ippolito, New Media
Richard Powell, Political Science
Liam Riordan, History

College of Natural Sciences, Forestry, and Agriculture
Robert Lilieholm, Forest Resources
Ann Rosebush Sossong, Nursing
Vivian Chi-Hua Wu, Food Science and Human Nutrition

Promoted to associate research professor

Senator George J. Mitchell Center for Environmental and Watershed Research
Sarah Nelson

Promoted to associate professor with tenure

College of Engineering
Nuri Emanetoglu, Electrical and Computer Engineering
Melissa Maynard, Civil Engineering

College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
Daniel Bilodeau, Theatre
Dylan Dryer, English
Mary Hough, History and Women’s Studies
Shannon McCoy, Psychology
Robert Meulenberg, Physics and Astronomy and Laboratory for Surface Science and Technology
Kathleen Yoon, Psychology

Maine Business School
Niclas Erhardt, Human Resources
Jason Harkins, Entrepreneurship
Patti Miles, Operations Management

College of Natural Sciences, Forestry, and Agriculture
Julie Gosse, Biochemistry
Teresa Johnson, Marine Policy
Robert Wheeler, Microbiology

Promoted to associate Extension professor with continuing contract

Tori Jackson, Cooperative Extension
Kristy Ouellette, Cooperative Extension
Andrew Plant, Cooperative Extension

Promoted to associate Extension professor and associate professor with continuing contract

Anne Lichtenwalner, Cooperative Extension and Animal and Veterinary Sciences
Ellen Mallory, Cooperative Extension and Sustainable Agriculture

Granted tenure at current rank of associate professor

Honors College
Margaret Killinger, Rezendes Preceptor of the Arts

Contact: Margaret Nagle, 207.581.3745

UMaine Environmental Horticulture Students Can Now Earn Degree in Turfgrass Science and Management

Wednesday, March 19th, 2014

During their senior year, University of Maine students majoring in environmental horticulture can now earn an associate of science degree in turfgrass science and management at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Under a new agreement, qualified students in the Environmental Horticulture Program at the University of Maine School of Food and Agriculture will spend their senior year at the University of Massachusetts Amherst Stockbridge School of Agriculture pursuing a concentration in turfgrass science and management.

In the Stockbridge School program, students study topics that include turfgrass management, pest and weed management, plant nutrients and equipment maintenance to prepare them for careers in turfgrass management with golf courses, athletic facilities, lawn care and park maintenance industries, according to the Stockbridge School of Agriculture website.

UMaine students will be accepted to the Stockbridge School after completing the first three years of their degree and maintaining at least a 2.5 cumulative grade point average. Credits earned at the Stockbridge School toward the associate of science degree will also count for the completion of the bachelor’s degree at UMaine.

“Our faculty look forward to offering more diverse academic options to environmental horticulture students through this agreement with the Stockbridge School of Agriculture,” says Stephanie Burnett, UMaine associate professor of horticulture who, along with professor emeritus William Mitchell, spearheaded the agreement. “These students will be highly competitive in the job market with both a bachelor’s degree in environmental horticulture from UMaine and an associate degree in turfgrass management from the Stockbridge School of Agriculture.”

Contact: Margaret Nagle, 207.581.3745

Author’s Keynote to Take Stock of ‘Living Sea’ at DMC

Wednesday, March 19th, 2014

Fishermen, historians, marine scientists, authors, students, economists and fisheries managers will gather Saturday, April 26, for “Maine and The Mortal Sea: Taking Stock of the Past, Present and Future of Our Living Sea,” at the University of Maine Darling Marine Center (DMC) in Walpole.

University of New Hampshire historian W. Jeffrey Bolster’s award-winning book “The Mortal Sea: Fishing the Atlantic in the Age of Sail” is the basis for the interdisciplinary symposium. Bolster delved into scientific accounts, fishermen’s tales and newspaper articles to detail how, from the 16th century through the Civil War era, humans harvested and decimated multiple species in the Atlantic.

“At every step of the way the precautionary approach could have made a difference,” writes Bolster. “Modest short-term sacrifice of profit and prosperity would have perpetuated renewable resources for the future …”

Jonathan Yardley, a reviewer for The Washington Post, said “The Mortal Sea” should be viewed as a cautionary story. “By the close of the 18th century…it was becoming plain — at least to those who chose to look clinically at the evidence — that the sea was as mortal as those who fished it,” he wrote.

Following Bolster’s keynote, a forum titled “Where should we sail in the wake of ‘The Mortal Sea?’: Three Views” will be held. Stephen Hornsby, director of UMaine’s Canadian-American Center, will moderate. Panelists are Ted Ames, fisherman, MacArthur Fellow and co-founder of Penobscot East Resource Center; Richard Judd, UMaine McBride Professor of History; and Jim Wilson, UMaine professor of marine sciences and economics.

Dana Morse, marine extension associate with the Maine Sea Grant College Program at the University of Maine, will moderate the afternoon forum titled “Coastal Maine and the Living Sea.” Panelists are Spencer Apollonio, former Maine Department of Marine Resources commissioner and the first executive director of the New England Fishery Management Council; Carla Guenther, Penobscot East Resource Center fisheries, science & leadership adviser; Linda Mercer, director of the Bureau of Marine Science at the Maine DMR; and Natalie Springuel, marine extension agent and coordinator of Downeast Fisheries Trail with Maine Sea Grant College Program at the University of Maine.

The symposium begins at 9:30 a.m. Maine Coast Book Shop & Cafe will sell copies of “The Mortal Sea,” which Bolster will be available to sign. The event concludes at 3:30 p.m. with a reception and walking tour of the DMC campus, on the shore of the Damariscotta River estuary.

Registration opens March 28; space is limited. To register, contact Linda Healy at 207.581.5220, lhealy@maine.edu.

UMaine’s School of Marine Sciences and History Department, the Senator George J. Mitchell Center & Maine’s Sustainability Solutions Initiative and Maine Sea Grant are hosts.

Contact: Beth Staples, 207.581.3777

Target Technology Incubator Earns Excellence Award

Tuesday, March 18th, 2014

The New England Board of Higher Education (NEBHE) honored the University of Maine Target Technology Incubator at the 12th annual New England Higher Education Excellence Awards celebration March 7 at the Boston Marriott Long Wharf Hotel.

More than 400 people attended the event, including leaders of education, business and government from across the six New England states.

Located in the Target Technology Center in Orono, Maine, the Target Technology Incubator received NEBHE’s 2014 Maine State Merit Award. Target Technology Incubator is a partnership of the University of Maine, Bangor Area Target Development Corporation, the town of Orono, and the state of Maine. The incubator provides scalable innovation-based companies with access to resources they need to grow and attain long-term success within an environment that fosters businesses development, commercialization and successful management practices.

In the past year, which was marked by slow job recovery in the employment market, the incubator’s tenants and its affiliates created more than 15 new jobs.

“The connection between universities and technology development is a hallmark of New England’s economy,” said NEBHE President and CEO Michael Thomas. “Incubators like this one allow a great idea to become a real value-producing company.”

Contact: Margaret Nagle, 207.581.3745;

Digital Journalism Class, BDN Collaborate on Bangor 2020 Project

Monday, March 17th, 2014

The future of Bangor, Maine, is the focus of a multimedia project that pairs University of Maine journalism students with mentors at the Bangor Daily News (BDN).

UMaine professor Jennifer Moore is leading CMJ 481: Digital Journalism students in the project called Bangor 2020. The journalism juniors and seniors are conducting research, doing journalistic fieldwork and producing news packages using a variety of technologies for the online, multimedia project in partnership with the BDN.

The goal of the course is to create a discussion about the future development of the Greater Bangor Area. The class is about providing students with a learning environment both in and out of the classroom, and experience working on a project that can significantly add to their professional portfolio and make them competitive on the job market.

The theme of the project is “livable cities,” a term associated with promoting economic growth while maintaining sustainable living environments.

“Students will gain valuable, hands-on experience reporting on important issues facing Bangor,” Moore says. “We’re focusing reporting and production in a ‘digital-first’ mindset that’s so important for anyone who wants to enter the world of professional journalism.

“Working this closely with mentors at the BDN — in a collaborative learning environment — is new in CMJ curriculum, and we hope to continue this relationship in future classes.”

Anthony Ronzio, BDN director of news and audience, says the course will “challenge the students into conceptualizing, analyzing and, ultimately, storytelling an issue of great local importance, with advice and guidance from professionals along the way. The final product would be of high enough quality to publish in the BDN.”

At the end of the semester, students also will give a public presentation to showcase their work.

“This project requires curiosity and hones the information-gathering skills that you need to satiate that curiosity. It also gives you, as a student journalist, a better understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of the different ways to tell a story while sharpening the basic journalistic skills we’ve developed in our other courses,” says Jonathan Ouellette, a senior in the class.

Ronzio says UMaine’s journalism department and the BDN can learn from each other. “By working together, we can make a brighter future for UMaine journalism students and help the BDN adapt to the new journalism that must be done in the 21st century,” he says.

Contact: Margaret Nagle, 207.581.3745

Williams Named Interim Director of CCA

Monday, March 10th, 2014

Daniel Williams of Orono has been appointed to serve a two-year term as interim executive director of the Collins Center for the Arts (CCA) at the University of Maine.

Williams replaces John Patches, the longtime director of the Collins Center, who retired Jan. 31.

The Collins Center for the Arts, home to the Hutchins Concert Hall and the Hudson Museum, opened in 1986. Today, it is one of the focal points of community engagement under the Blue Sky Plan, UMaine’s five-year strategic plan.

“Senior Vice President Janet Waldron and I are very pleased that Danny Williams has agreed to assume leadership of the Collins Center for the Arts,” says University of Maine President Paul Ferguson. “Danny has demonstrated remarkable leadership in diverse opportunities at UMaine and consistently brings excellent results. At this time, his leadership and experience are particularly important to the Collins Center for the Arts. Consistent with the Blue Sky Plan, the CCA is poised under his leadership to achieve its full potential, engaging Maine citizens and providing high-quality entertainment and education.”

Since 1986, Williams has been a member of the UMaine community, where he has served in leadership roles in marketing, fundraising, community outreach and the performing arts. Most recently, Williams was associate director of planned giving with the University of Maine Foundation. He is a faculty member in the School of Performing Arts and has served on the Collins Center for the Arts advisory board since 1993, chairing both the Special Events and Gala Committee, and the Community Relations and Outreach Committee.

The Bangor High School graduate received a bachelor’s degree in music and a master’s degree in higher education administration from UMaine in 1991 and 1994, respectively.

In addition, Williams served as president and director of development for the Eastern Maine Community College Foundation, director of annual and reunion giving for the University of Maine Alumni Association, and assistant to the dean for UMaine Enrollment Management. In 1998, he served one term as Maine state representative for District 122.

His honors include the UMaine Patrons of the Arts Vincent A. Hartgen Award in 2005.

“The arts are thriving at UMaine and in the Bangor region, and the Collins Center has an essential and exciting role to play, bringing together the campus, the community and world-class performers.” says Williams. “My commitment is to excellence at the CCA, and to seeing the center continue to expand its educational and cultural impact throughout the region and the state.”

Williams lives in Orono with his wife, State Sen. Emily Cain.

UMaine Grad Student Develops an App for Measuring Water Quality

Thursday, March 6th, 2014

A new app developed by a University of Maine graduate student allows iPhone users to take water quality measurements.

“The end result we want is to crowdsource water quality data,” says the 23-year-old oceanography student from Lincoln, Vt.

As part of his master’s thesis, Thomas Leeuw developed HydroColor, an app that uses three photos to measure the reflectance of natural water bodies. Based on the reflectance values, the turbidity or level of suspended sediment in a given water body can be measured.

“What we’re measuring is the reflectance of the water and the particles inside it,” Leeuw says. “To make reflectance measurements, oceanographers use precision instruments called radiometers. HydroColor is taking what a lot of ocean scientists do with radiometers and satellites, and applying it to an iPhone camera.”

The process requires three photographs, beginning with a photographer’s gray card, which calibrates the app based on how much ambient illumination is present. Gray cards reflect 18 percent of the light in the area, giving the app an initial reading of how much light is entering the water.

Next, the app directs the user to take a photograph of the sky. The app uses this image to control for the amount of light from the sky that is being reflected by the surface of the water. Surface reflection — such as the blue color seen when looking at a body of water on a clear day — offers no information about the turbidity of the water because it is light reflected by the surface of the water, not reflected from particles suspended in it.

The final photograph taken is of the water itself, which the app evaluates after controlling for surface reflection. The magnitude of reflected light in the red portion of the visible spectrum can be used to assess turbidity.

The reflected light can also offer information about the type of particles in the water.

“Turbidity actually is a measure of sidescattering, but you can use it to estimate the concentration of particles, in grams per meter cubed, so we’re able to convert turbidity to physical values,” Leeuw says.

In addition, the makeup of particles can be inferred based on the color of light reflected. Organic particles typically contain pigments that absorb light only in certain regions of the visible spectrum. This will cause the reflectance signal to vary across the visible spectrum. Inorganic particles do not contain pigments and their reflectance signature does not vary greatly across the visible spectrum.

By aggregating data from many people over large spatial and temporal scales, HydroColor can determine the typical turbidity or chlorophyll values for different environments. The interactive online database can then be used by laypeople or lake association officials to help monitor for changes, such as increased occurrence of algal blooms or erosion leading to higher suspended sediment.

Turbidity is one of many parameters for measuring water quality. Chlorophyll, for instance, reflects mostly green light and can offer a measure of the amount of algal particles in the water body. Using the different reflectance characteristics, Leeuw says HydroColor could be expanded to offer a more comprehensive readout of water quality measurements.

Leeuw next hopes to find an online host for user-gathered water quality data. “Eventually we’re going to have a button in the app so after you take a measurement, you can upload it to an online database,” he says. “The idea is that the database is open to everyone, it is a place where people can look at and compare measurements from all over the world.”

Understanding how water quality parameters like turbidity change over time is critical for scientists in many fields, Leeuw says. “One turbidity level is not necessarily better than another. We’re just very interested in fluctuations. It’s a tool for looking at changes in the environment.”

Leeuw hopes HydroColor will also provide an inexpensive, accessible learning tool for science classrooms. Compared to a professional radiometer, which can be cost-prohibitive for most classrooms, iPhones are becoming ubiquitous among students, and gray cards generally cost less than $5.

“It’s an extremely cheap lesson using a lot of technology. You can not only use it to learn about environmental science, but optics, technology and app development,” Leeuw says. “Right now, it is only for iPhone, but we’re thinking about hiring a developer to convert it to Android as well.”

Although he had experience programming before turning to app development, Leeuw had to teach himself Objective-C, the language used for the iOS platform. But developing HydroColor demanded more than learning a new programming language. The project has been in progress for about two years, a time span that has allowed Leeuw and his adviser, UMaine professor Emmanuel Boss, to gather hundreds of photos while on other excursions.

“We’d always be doing our other research, but then we’d run over and snap a few pictures to continue with development,” Leeuw says. “We used (research) trips of opportunity — anywhere we’d go, we’d make sure to grab some data.”

Those “trips of opportunity” have allowed Leeuw to aggregate images from all over the coast of Maine, Georgia and Washington, and many locations in the Arctic. Leeuw sailed to the Arctic with Boss as part of a project to study Arctic phytoplankton.

Now that HydroColor is available in the Apple app store, Leeuw’s goal is in sight. He presented his app to the Ocean Sciences Meeting in Honolulu in February and hopes to publish the project in a journal.

Contact: Margaret Nagle, 207.581.3745

UMaine Economist Details Maple Syrup Industry’s Impact on Economy

Wednesday, March 5th, 2014

The Maine maple syrup that enhances the flavor of pancakes and ice cream also adds to the statewide economy.

University of Maine economist Todd Gabe says, including multiplier effects, Maine’s maple industry annually contributes about $49 million in revenue, 805 full- and part-time jobs and $25 million in wages to the state’s economy.

Multiplier effects occur when an increase in one economic activity initiates a chain reaction of additional spending. In this case, the additional spending is by maple farms, businesses that are part of the maple industry and their employees.

“The maple producers were really helpful in providing me with information about their operations, which allowed for a really detailed analysis of their economic impact,” says Gabe, whose study was released in February.

Each year, the industry directly contributes about $27.7 million in revenue, 567 full- and part-time jobs, and $17.3 million in wages to Maine’s economy, Gabe says.

Maple producers earn about 75 percent of the revenue through sales of syrup and other maple products, including maple candy, maple taffy, maple whoopie pies and maple-coated nuts, he says.

Retail sales at food stores and the estimated spending of Maine Maple Sunday visitors on items such as gasoline and meals accounts for the remainder of revenue. This year, Maine Maple Sunday will be celebrated Sunday, March 23 at 88 sugar shacks and farms across the Pine Tree state.

Maine has the third-largest maple industry in the United States. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, maple syrup is produced in 10 states — Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Vermont and Wisconsin.

In 2013, Maine accounted for 450,000 gallons, or 14 percent, of the 3,253,000 million gallons produced in the U.S. Vermont (1,320,000 gallons) and New York (574,000) were the top two producers. Among the three top-producing states, Maine had the highest growth rate (25 percent) of production between 2011 and 2013, Gabe reports.

In Maine, the maple production industry appears to be dominated by a few large operations; the 10 percent of maple farms with 10,000 or more taps account for 86 percent of the total number of taps in the state, he says.

While the maple producers that participated in Gabe’s study had an average of 4,109 taps, almost 40 percent of Maine’s maple producers had fewer than 250 taps. The study participants have been tapping trees and boiling sap for an average of 24 years.

Depending on temperature and water availability, the length of the sap flow season varies; in 2013 it ran from March 4 to April 12 in Maine.

Close to 40 percent of the maple producers that are licensed in Maine returned surveys for the study, which received financial support from the Maine Agricultural Development Grant Fund and the Maine Maple Producers Association.

Contact: Beth Staples, 207.581.3777